New Blessed McGivney Guild to support vocations

BRIDGEPORT — Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has announced the formation off the Blessed Michael McGivney Guild to provide support to men who are discerning vocations.

The bishop said that guild members will help by providing financial support and accompaniment to programs that foster and sustain seminarians in discerning and forming vocations.

“Praying without ceasing and keeping your eyes focused on Jesus is the work of those who are discerning a vocation,” said Bishop Caggiano in announcing the guild. “However, answering the call requires creating a culture that nourishes vocations and accompanies those who seek to discern a vocation. It also requires the prayerful support and accompaniment of the community n creating a culture that nourishes vocations in parishes and schools, particularly at a time when many young people are overwhelmed by the values of the secular world.”

The bishop said that in order to achieve the growth in our seminarian community, both in numbers and in a diversity that reflects the composition of the faithful in the diocese, “The goal is to cultivate a missionary attitude toward fostering vocations. Guild members are answering the call to renewal n a unique way by fostering, discerning, forming and accompanying priestly vocations.”

He said the new guild will make it possible to expand opportunities and support men who are discerning a priestly vocation, especially in college and post-college. Plans call for developing virtual and in-person discernment support groups, days of recollection/discernment retreats with particular focus on college students and those in the workforce, and sponsoring pilgrimages and young adult conferences on vocations.

Joe Gallagher, chief development officer, said the diocese has already spoken with men and women that have expressed an interest in stepping forward to serve as founding members of the guild. One of the key areas of support is the need to subsidize the cost of an education.

“Financial impediments should not stand in the way of young men willing to respond to their call to the priesthood. Educational costs for both minor and major seminary are approximately $50,000 per year,” and support makes the difference as they decide.

Gallagher said there are currently 25 seminarians training to become priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport, with six scheduled for priestly ordination in 2023. In their formation, they are focused on human, pastoral, intellectual and spiritual growth. Seminarians begin their formation with philosophy studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Penn. Seminarians then move on to the major seminary, a four-year theology program at St. Joseph’s, Dunwoodie, N.Y.; Pope St. John XXIII, Weston, Mass.; and The Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He said that projections show that the growth of our vocation and seminary programs will require a minimum of $2 million over the next five years in additional leadership philanthropic investment.

Along with providing financial support for their studies and formation, McGivney Guild members will find multiple opportunities to engage in the accompaniment of the seminarians of the Diocese of Bridgeport during their formation process. Group gatherings will be held twice a year to share in prayer, fellowship and a meal. The guild is also hoping to sponsor seminary pilgrimages and a newsletter to update contributors.

Father Michael J. McGivney was a central figure in the growth of Catholicism in America. Born in Waterbury in 1852 and ordained in Baltimore in 1877, he was a priest based in New Have and founded the Knights of Columbus.

On May 26, 2020, Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney. On October 31 of that year, the Mass for Beatification was celebrated in Hartford. He is the third person born in the United States to be raised to this honor, and the first priest to be beatified who spent his whole priestly ministry in a U.S. parish.

Bishop Caggiano said the diocese and its seminarians are also very fortunate to have the support of the Serra Ministry, a national and local ecclesial movement that is active in encouraging and supporting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life through meetings, dinners and innovative parish vocation ministry workshops.

“Everyone has a stake in the formation of our future priests,” said Father Christopher Ford, vocations director for the diocese. “The Blessed Michael McGivney Guild is a great gift to the diocese and our seminarians, as it gives the opportunity to create a real culture of vocation that expands to every corner of the diocese.”

Brian D. Wallace